Bellefontaine Examiner

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Coal-tar asphalt could be cause of failing road

An asphalt mixture comprised of coal and tar spread about six inches beneath the surface of the pavement may be the reason portions of County Road 144 are failing significantly, according to Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman.

The roughly one-mile section of road between County Road 152 and State Route 287 was closed for much of Thursday as a crew from Asphalt Materials, Inc. removed samples of the uneven roadway to study the asphalt up to eight inches beneath the surface. The company will study its samples and provide a recommendation to the Logan County Engineer’s Office.

Roadwrk-4-4Bruce Wehr with Asphalt Materials Inc. penetrates County Road 144 Thursday to investigate failed sections of pavement. EXAMINER PHOTO | NATE SMITH

“Right now it’s looking like the use of a coal-tar-based asphalt about six inches under

 the surface is the cause of the problem,” Mr. Coleman said. “That’s where the failure appears to be coming from.

“The coal-tar asphalt stays more fluid and doesn’t harden like it should and it damages the pavement above it.”

That section of road was formerly U.S. Route 33 and the faulty pavement would have been poured by the Ohio Department of Transportation decades before the county assumed responsibility for the road.

Mr. Coleman said, according to information he was given by the asphalt company contracted by his office, this particular asphalt mixture used to be pretty common, especially in the northeast part of the state, and has showed up in other failing roadways.

The company will provide the engineer’s office with estimates and suggestions for prepare, Mr. Coleman said.

“Right now it’s looking like repair involves an in-place recycling where the asphalt is ground down, mixed with new asphalt and re-applied,” he said.

The coal-tar mixture is a carcinogen and is unable to be readily disposed, which is why the best option typically is to recycle it, Mr. Coleman said.

That process would involve closing the road again later in the summer. Mr. Coleman said his office may try to time the project up with the annual Honda shutdown, but couldn’t guarantee it. That stretch of road sees approximately 3,266 vehicles per day, the engineer said.

For more, pick up a copy of Friday's Examiner.

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